Bangkok, Nov 21 (UNI) The separatist violence in southern Thailand is part of international terrorism threatening Southeast Asian sea lanes vital to global commerce, Thai coup leader and Deputy Prime Minister Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said.
Addressing army chiefs of the ten member countries of the Southeast Asian nations' forum ASEAN, Gen Sonthi said, ''The insurgency in Thailand's southern border region must be seen as part of the international terrorist threat to marine transport through the Malacca Straits.
The former Thai army chief who ousted Thailand's elected government in September 2006, said Southeast Asian armies must work together to tackle terrorism which spills over national borders.
About 2,500 people have been killed in insurgent violence in Thailand's Muslim-majority provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani bordering Malaysia since early 2004.
Gen Sonthi was speaking yesterday at the eighth meeting of army chiefs of member countries of ASEAN that groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Pointing out that international terrorist networks were taking advantage of the free flow of information across borders, Gen Sonthi said Thailand faced an influx of such information, but, unlike Singapore, was not actively coping with this.